(Photo: Jason Doiy)
The online lending exchange LendingTree, a subsidiary of Charlotte, N.C.-based Tree Inc., struck out on Wednesday in a patent infringement trial against the Internet companies Nextag Inc., Zillow Inc., and Adchemy Inc. The verdict is a win for defense lawyers at Cooley and Fenwick & West.
A federal jury in Charlotte determined that the defendants didn’t infringe LendingTree patents covering a process of matching borrowers with lenders. Jurors also found the patents to be invalid on the grounds that they failed to identify the correct inventor.
Nextag was represented by Cooley’s Thomas Friel and Christopher Campbell. Saina Shamilov, Lynn Pasahow and J. David Hadden of Fenwick & West represented both Zillow and Adchemy. Attorneys at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton represented LendingTree.
U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney held a month-long trial in the case. The stakes were high, since a win for LendingTree would have meant not only millions of dollars in licensing fees, but the ability to shut out competitors in the online lending exchange market, as the Charlotte Observer reported. According to a Cooley spokesperson, LendingTree was seeking more than $100 million in combined damages from the defendants.
Tree Inc. said in a statement that it’s disappointed with the verdict and that it believes it has strong grounds for an appeal. The company also noted that the verdict wasn’t a total defeat, because jurors rejected antitrust counterclaims brought by the defendants.